First Cameron Diaz turns up in Esquire looking racy in her bra and pants, claiming that she feels “better at 40 than I did at 25”; then former children’s TV presenter Emma Forbes starts waxing lyrical about how much better life is now that she’s older, wiser - and has her own stylist (they've written a book, Saluting Style, together). The message is clear: being 40 is fab. Especially if you’ve got something to sell.
That said, as a woman who has just celebrated her 45th birthday, I’m inclined to agree. I am much happier now that I can ever remember being. It’s not just that I’ve found and ensnared the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, or that my children are older (and therefore that much more interesting and less demanding), or that I’m more confident and efficient at work. It’s also that I just don’t care as much as I used to. And it can be very liberating.
When I think of all the years I wasted trying to squeeze my round peg into variously skinny holes, or the hours I spent worrying about my hair, my face, the shape of my nose or the size of my feet, I just feel rather sad and a bit stupid. If only I’d spent half that time doing something constructive, who knows where I might be today.
That is not to say, of course, that I don’t care at all. It’s just that I know and accept my limitations. Waisted dresses, for example, are not and never shall be for me. I must never wear brown or beige. I look really awful in a polo neck. Red lipstick makes me look like my dad in drag. And so on. Some people might call this “having a sense of one's own style”. In truth it’s just what happens when you’ve been alive for quite a while. And I wouldn’t swap it for all the youth in the world.